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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 2

13 Post author: dclayh 01 August 2010 10:58PM

ETA: There is now a third thread, so send new comments there.

 

Since the first thread has exceeded 500 comments, it seems time for a new one, with Eliezer's just-posted Chapter 33 & 34 to kick things off. 

From previous post: 

Spoiler Warning:  this thread contains unrot13'd spoilers for Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality up to the current chapter and for the original Harry Potter series.  Please continue to use rot13 for spoilers to other works of fiction, or if you have insider knowledge of future chapters of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

A suggestion: mention at the top of your comment which chapter you're commenting on, or what chapter you're up to, so that people can understand the context of your comment even after more chapters have been posted.  This can also help people avoid reading spoilers for a new chapter before they realize that there is a new chapter.

Comments (696)

Comment author: lukeprog 17 December 2012 01:47:07PM 2 points [-]

I like Harry's poetic exposition of moral sentimentalism in chapter 39:

There is no justice in the laws of Nature... no term for fairness in the equations of motion. The universe is neither evil, nor good, it simply does not care. The stars don't care, or the Sun, or the sky. But they don't have to! We care! There is light in the world, and it is us!

This reminds me of the video trailer (complete with a soundtrack by Talking Heads and Muse!) I made for "desire utilitarianism" aka "desirism," a version of moral sentimentalism I held at the time. (My latest thoughts on desirism are here.)

Comment author: DanArmak 17 December 2012 02:55:49PM 2 points [-]

This seems like a reference to a quote by Stanley Kubrick:

The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent, but if we can come to terms with this indifference, then our existence as a species can have genuine meaning. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

Comment author: BerryPick6 17 December 2012 03:39:49PM *  2 points [-]

Or, possibly, a quote by Richard Dawkins in Garden out of Eden:

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

Comment author: Bongo 25 September 2010 08:29:18PM *  2 points [-]

I have an argument for why telling someone that there's a new chapter of MoR hurts them!

Say that

  • The thought of MoR crosses your mind at random intervals, making you go check ff.net.
  • If there's no new chapter, you suffer disappointment.
  • If there is a new chapter, you get enjoyment.
  • At other times your utility is zero.

Then if you alert someone to MoR before they would have naturally thought of it, you increase the length of time during which they are at risk of checking ff.net and being disappointed.

I have actually been moved by this argument in the case of the one person I know IRL who reads MoR.

Comment author: gwern 25 September 2010 10:50:01PM 5 points [-]

So, the root of all suffering is desire - for new fanfic?

Comment author: ata 25 September 2010 08:39:13PM *  2 points [-]

If you get a fanfiction.net account, you can sign up to be notified of new chapters by email. Try it; your mental health will probably improve. (It worked for me!)

Comment author: Bongo 25 September 2010 08:43:55PM 0 points [-]

Sure, but by my argument, that would just hurt me. I'd get reminded of MoR early when I would just be looking at my email.

Comment author: wedrifid 30 August 2010 05:59:10AM *  5 points [-]

A couple of recent comments have prompted me to consider my impressions of the cold, dark side of Harry. In particular how it differs from an 'evil, bad side' and why it seems to me to go hand in hand with being 'super rational'.

Someone complained elsewhere (I think it was in the other thread) about Harry being the Boy-who-Lived and having a prophecy and having a cold dark side and being super-rational.

Given that I know Harry to be super-rational and also that he is functional and has a credible ability to achieve goals I would actually be somewhat surprised if he didn't also have a colddarkside. Partly because I am generalising from a sample of me and partly because that cold practicality is required if you are going to maintain rational beliefs about yourself and also function.

Also, from the descriptions it looks like he was fighting this battle in ColdDarkLordHarry mode, so in addition to the above, he might even have been worrying that his Dark Side had subconsciously arranged things (such as a Potions failure, or just the situation of random danger with the Feather Fall potion as a false guarantor of safety) in a way that would bring his Intent To Kill to bear. It might even be revealed later that, for just a moment, his Dark Side produced a desire that she actually die, and that's what's making him feel so guilty.

A caricature of the non hyper-rational person suggests that they have the ability to act in an effective approximately instrumentally rational manner in most typical situations while simultaneously presenting a warm front. The 'dark side' is denied but also harnessed. It 'subconsciously' arranges things to achieve pragmatic ends while maintaining plausible deniability even to yourself.

When you are super-rational you don't have that luxury. The 'cold, dark' instincts must ally themselves with the rational side and the conscious awareness. You don't 'accidentally' kill someone or screw them over with unconscious passive aggression. If you need to kill someone you kill them. If you need to hurt them, you hurt them. The colddark may prompt you to lie but it need not call you to lie to yourself.

The Intent To Kill is somewhat similar. It isn't a a sadistic part of you that secretly wants people dead. It isn't malicious. It is ruthless and practical. If you must fight, it says, then don't fight fair and don't fight half heartedly. If you have a goal then the actions you take should be about achieving the goal rather than adopting the persona of a person who has a goal.

Comment author: NihilCredo 30 August 2010 12:11:06PM 1 point [-]

The Intent To Kill is somewhat similar. It isn't a a sadistic part of you that secretly wants people dead. It isn't malicious. It is ruthless and practical. If you must fight, it says, then don't fight fair and don't fight half heartedly.

While in most types of fights killing is usually easier and safer than disabling, it is neither ruthless nor practical but simply short-sighted to lose track of why you are fighting.

There are plenty of situations where killing your enemy bears great costs. Maybe it would expose you to revenge from someone more powerful; maybe it would lead you to waste years of your life in court if not prison. Maybe it would be a massive PR victory for those who oppose you, undermining the entire plan that brought you into a fight in the first place (sounds familiar?). Maybe it would prevent you from obtaining critical help or information from the defeated enemy; the list could go on.

Of course preserving your own life has tremendous value (I heard there's a saying among some policemen: "an ugly trial is better than a beautiful funeral"), but it is not an absolutely incommensurable value. For a certain subset of X and Y in ]0,1[², you would accept an X chance of losing your life to a not-quite-dead enemy in exchange for a Y chance of not wasting decades of life (arguably), or (certainly) of not dying later on to unstoppable revenge.

All of the above being pretty much a very long-winded way of rephrasing Prof. Quirrell's dismissal that "there is a time and place to take your enemy alive, and a Hogwarts classroom is usually one of those".

Comment author: wedrifid 30 August 2010 12:37:54PM *  0 points [-]

While in most types of fights killing is usually easier and safer than disabling, it is neither ruthless nor practical but simply short-sighted to lose track of why you are fighting.

I never got the impression that Harry's "Intent To Kill" thing included any tendency whatsoever to forget why he was fighting. The lesson here is completely distinct from being gratuitously stupid.

Comment author: NihilCredo 30 August 2010 01:18:33PM 5 points [-]

I never got the impression that Harry's "Intent To Kill" thing included any tendency whatsoever to forget why he was fighting.

I disagree.

First, Quirrell very clearly asked Harry to think of combat uses for items in the classroom; that his thinking automatically restricted itself to lethal uses shows a serious flaw in his on-the-spot strategic abilities. This particular example is a good one, since his killing ideas quickly became worthless, but had he considered other aspects of combat he would have come up with a lot of much more useful options, such as using desks as barricades.

Secondly, Quirrell's quiz test is closely followed by two entire chapters devoted to Harry's highly dangerous tendency to escalate fights beyond the point where he could expect the best reward-to-risk ratio (George Patton once said: "Don't fight a battle if you don't gain anything by winning"). Deciding from the start that the enemy must die, without even fleetingly considering if other options may be preferrable, is clearly part of this problem.

I realise, as I write this, that there is a possibility we may be talking about two distinct things. As I read it in the text, by "intent to kill" Quirrell referred to Harry's reflexive interpretation of any fight as a fight to the death. If you are, instead, using the phrase to refer to the willingness and psychological ability to kill (whereas most regular people would find themselves instinctively aiming their knives away from vital points, and so on), then I have no disagreemen.

Comment author: Mercy 08 December 2010 07:23:55PM 2 points [-]

Also note that in the lesson "intent to kill" is not presented by Quirrel as purely good thing, nor is Harry called the most capable warrior or the best kid to have your back in the fight but the most dangerous student, an epithet that could well apply to the cadet with the worst trigger discipline. It appears that intent to kill goes along with a lack of squeamishness about violence, and it may be easier to teach Harry about the proper uses of violence than to train Draco to be unaffected by it, but that does not mean that intent to kill is itself a good thing

Comment author: wedrifid 30 August 2010 05:25:40PM *  0 points [-]

I realise, as I write this, that there is a possibility we may be talking about two distinct things. As I read it in the text, by "intent to kill" Quirrell referred to Harry's reflexive interpretation of any fight as a fight to the death. If you are, instead, using the phrase to refer to the willingness and psychological ability to kill (whereas most regular people would find themselves instinctively aiming their knives away from vital points, and so on), then I have no disagreemen.

I'm actually speaking of neither of those things. Instead I speak of the things I allude to in my initial comment. Similar language is used to express related concepts fairly often in books on strategy as well as Eliezer's document on the virtues of rationality. I have also specifically asserted that I am not referring to the somewhat distinct concept on picking idiotic fights.

Comment author: KevinC 30 August 2010 02:08:15AM 7 points [-]

I just had a thought WRT Harry's controversial apology to Hermione in Chapter 42. This is the Harry that lectured McGonagall on the Planning Fallacy, while demonstrating that he really does assume a worst-case scenario (insisting on purchasing a magical first aid kit just in case one of his fellow students ended up maimed and dying in front of him). I think it's entirely plausible that he could have spent the whole time Hermione was falling imagining that maybe he'd forgotten to stir the ground hen's teeth (or whatever) into the Feather Fall potion six times, or that it wasn't quite a three-quarters Moon when he started, or that a sudden gust of wind might impale her on the spikes of a wrought-iron balcony fence, or blow her into the Forbidden Forest or whatever other horrific Murphy's Law scenarios his all-too-imaginative mind could concoct, right up until her feet touched the ground.

Also, from the descriptions it looks like he was fighting this battle in ColdDarkLordHarry mode, so in addition to the above, he might even have been worrying that his Dark Side had subconsciously arranged things (such as a Potions failure, or just the situation of random danger with the Feather Fall potion as a false guarantor of safety) in a way that would bring his Intent To Kill to bear. It might even be revealed later that, for just a moment, his Dark Side produced a desire that she actually die, and that's what's making him feel so guilty.

Then, he would have spent the time until she came to meet him imagining that she would have been imagining the same things as an expression of his Planning Fallacy-based ur-pessimism combined with his tendency to try to model other people's minds, i.e., in this case, in the most pessimistic way possible. So, by the time he sees her, he's got himself expecting her to hate, hate, HATE him, and since he cares about her he really doesn't want that. And for her part, she's got him apologizing and willing to let her avenge herself on him, so why stop him now?

Some of the comments here have pointed out Hermione's strong sense of Justice and Fairness as an objection to her behavior in this scene. Maybe we're seeing some Unintended Consequences to Harry's "get Hermione and Draco to work together" plot. For Draco to reflexively try to catch Hermione is (I think) a major change in his character. This is a boy who casually expressed his intention to rape Luna Lovegood to someone he'd just met, assuming that boy's stated "intention" to murder her was equally casual, and equally serious. Major, major misogyny here.

So, for Draco to try to save Hermione, and have difficulty letting her go even as what's left of his Pureblood conditioning is railing at him, and Hermione herself is begging him to drop her so he can beat Harry, is a huge change in his character. If we grant that so much of Hermione's[1] sensibilities have rubbed off on Draco during their collaboration, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that some osmosis has gone the other way. Hermione's spent the last few months of warfare learning the art of Devious Plotting, and since her alliance with Draco, would be getting lessons from a master. So, if we accept the changes to Draco's character, it's not too implausible IMO that Hermione might have become less of a "goody-goody" by now, and be willing to let Harry grovel, and even enjoy it a bit.

  1. I'm assuming it would be Hermione's values rubbing off on Draco and not Harry's, since in the portrayed encounters Harry has been concealing his Enlightenment sentiments from Draco to keep him in the Bayesian Conspiracy. "Slytherin! Just Kidding! Ravenclaw!"
Comment author: wedrifid 30 August 2010 04:51:11AM *  8 points [-]

This is a boy who casually expressed his intention to rape Luna Lovegood to someone he'd just met, assuming that boy's stated "intention" to murder her was equally casual, and equally serious. Major, major misogyny here.

I don't read that as misogyny. Merely a willingness to utterly humiliate a low status enemy by whatever means practical. If it was Larry Lovegood I expect the conversation would involve castration. Or perhaps sodomy via broomstick.

Comment author: Pavitra 30 August 2010 03:08:52AM 6 points [-]

This is a good analysis. I have two nitpicks:

1) I think Draco is mostly classist rather than sexist.

2) Hermione is currently Draco's ally. Her parentage greatly obstructed her getting there, but now that she has that status, much is changed.

Comment author: Alicorn 30 August 2010 02:20:10AM 4 points [-]

ground hen's teeth

One powders hens' teeth.

Comment author: Rain 29 August 2010 02:55:56AM *  5 points [-]

I had a recent conversation with a few friends of mine about life extension, death, etc, brought on by reading the chapter from HP&MoR where Harry discusses the topic with Dumbledore. I used all the standard arguments (their general response was 'it would be boring'), and eventually used the word deathist. After hearing the word, one of my friends recast their position, jokingly, as "anti-liveite", which made me realize the whole thing might just be arguing politics.

Comment author: katydee 29 August 2010 03:00:53AM 4 points [-]

Firmly identifying yourself with a position, especially with a cute little word, tends to lead to that, yes. I would definitely avoid using "deathist," "lifeist," etc.

Comment author: Rain 29 August 2010 01:29:49PM 2 points [-]

It was a very brief moment in the conversation, not even remarked upon by anyone. It did make me think of it in an entirely new light, though. They were coming up with defenses partly because, if I was right about 'death being a bad thing', then there would be a significant amount of social policy decisions that need to be overturned or changed: politics rears its ugly head. Even without theism, decades of acceptance, etc., it will be a dangerous topic.

Comment author: Pavitra 28 August 2010 06:50:29PM 4 points [-]

Ch. 42:

The idea of casual acceptance of homosexuality in magical Britain doesn't seem to be thought out fully. Even this very chapter (and I've noticed that major premises from one chapter tend not to show up in others, but that's a separate issue), there's the casual assumption (inherited from canon, inherited in turn from most of Western media as a whole) that "thinks Harry/Draco is hawt" equals "female". About fifteen percent of those squeeing fans should have been boys.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 August 2010 09:36:17PM 3 points [-]

Really? Fifteen percent of all yaoi fans are yaoi fanboys and eighty-five percent are yaoi fangirls? I'd like to see that statistic before I believe it. Also, you've got to keep in mind that we're talking about the set of yaoi fans who are squeeing over Harry and Draco while they're still eleven. This, to me, says "yaoi fangirl", though I fully admit I'm working from 100% stereotypes and 0% experience.

Comment author: Perplexed 28 August 2010 09:44:04PM 1 point [-]

Huh? Why is yaoi fandom the relevant population?

Comment author: Perplexed 28 August 2010 10:04:26PM 1 point [-]

Ah, I see what is going on. When Pavitra wrote "thinks Harry/Draco is hawt", did he mean "thinks Harry is sexy and/or thinks Draco is sexy" or did he mean "thinks that the concept of a romantic relationship between them is an exciting concept"?

Comment author: thomblake 29 August 2010 04:09:28AM 2 points [-]

FYI, X/Y is read "X slash Y" and is a way of calling out a ship.

Comment author: Perplexed 29 August 2010 05:13:46AM 1 point [-]

Cool. Thx. I'm more ancient than I like to admit, and this is my first fanfic experience. I'm very proud that I didn't have to look up "ship".

Comment author: komponisto 29 August 2010 06:15:48PM *  3 points [-]

I'm very proud that I didn't have to look up "ship".

I however did -- because I didn't find my correct guess plausible. (An apostrophe would help: " 'ship ".)

(Imagine if I wrote: "It was my first ence of that sort." You might be able to guess that "experience" is the most likely meaning, but it would need verification and still feel weird afterward.)

I also don't understand "call out": does it mean "refer to", or "advocate"?

Comment author: wedrifid 30 August 2010 03:59:17AM 0 points [-]

I however did -- because I didn't find my correct guess plausible. (An apostrophe would help: " 'ship ".)

I had to look it up too, but I do note that the changed usage of ship vs relationship makes leaving off the apostrophe appropriate. 'Relationship' can't be used as a verb!

Comment author: Alicorn 29 August 2010 06:35:49PM 4 points [-]

(Imagine if I wrote: "It was my first ence of that sort." You might be able to guess that "experience" is the most likely meaning, but it would need verification and still feel weird afterward.)

I'm tempted to start using "ence" as an abbreviation for "experience". I like the sound of it and it seems like a word that deserves a monosyllabic version.

Comment author: wedrifid 30 August 2010 03:50:10AM 0 points [-]

I like the sound of it and it seems like a word that deserves a monosyllabic version.

The word already has a monosyllabic version (exp) but it is interesting to note that an "ence" variant is probably still warranted. I would still use 'experience' in the places where people may abbreviate to ence, because it feels right to my intuitions. "Exp" is a resource that I acquire but experiences, they are things to be savoured. I want to be fully present, in the moment for the full three syllables. In the same vein I would 'ship' combinations I was somewhat distancing myself from or perhaps considering particularly abstractly but I would never consider using that jargon in relation to Harry and Hermione for example. If I didn't use 'relationship' I would rephrase the context such that another word or phrase (connection? or 'author conveyed a bond between'?) fit the context.

Comment author: jimrandomh 31 August 2010 04:27:25AM 2 points [-]

I like Ence as a separate word from Exp for two reasons. First, Exp is very strongly tied to a meaning in games that is in important ways opposite from the meaning we would want Ence to have. And second, I don't think "exp" counts as properly monosyllabic; the monosoyllabic prononciation /eksp/ has a consonant cluster that many languages and English dialects don't allow in speech, causing speakers to automatically expand it to /ek.spi/.

Comment author: katydee 29 August 2010 06:52:37PM 3 points [-]

I know people who use "tech" for "technique," "grade" for "upgrade," etc. Once you get used to it, it really is more efficient, but at the price of making it more difficult for outsiders to understand what you're saying.

Comment author: wedrifid 30 August 2010 03:53:11AM *  1 point [-]

Bah. Those two abbreviations are terrible. People use those? There is no context where tech(nique) is used in which the existing use of tech(nology) wouldn't be appropriate, given that techniques can be considered technology. Why oh why would you not use 'nique' or 'niq'? I suspect I would be willing to signal myself as an outsider so as to avoid sacrificing my dignity like that!

Comment author: ata 30 August 2010 03:43:49AM *  4 points [-]

For a while I've wondered what exactly Robin Hanson is doing (what he's trying to signal, perhaps? I don't know) when he uses abbreviations like "med", "docs", "tech", etc. (Pretty sure there are other common ones not coming to my mind right now.) He doesn't otherwise come off as a lazy writer, he can't really pass for "folksy" (and super-contrarian econblogging isn't quite the right context for that anyway), they aren't difficult or cumbersome words...

Comment author: TobyBartels 30 August 2010 12:32:36AM 2 points [-]

Once you get used to it, it really is more efficient, but at the price of making it more difficult for outsiders to understand what you're saying.

This is the characteristic feature of jargon. (And fanfic has its jargon like anything else.)

Comment author: Alicorn 29 August 2010 07:00:29PM 2 points [-]

I've seen "tech" for "technology" but not for "technique". Interesting.

Comment author: Pavitra 29 August 2010 06:21:54PM 0 points [-]

In this context, it means something like "name" or "denote".

Comment author: Pavitra 28 August 2010 10:14:27PM 1 point [-]

The latter. And I talked about yaoi fans because Eliezer did.

Comment author: Pavitra 28 August 2010 09:42:11PM 3 points [-]

That's not representative. Yaoi specifically, as opposed to fiction depicting male homosexual relationships in general, is written almost exclusively by women for girls. The issues addressed are calques of the issues that come with being a teenage girl -- some works go so far as to get the guys pregnant.

Comment author: NihilCredo 28 August 2010 08:43:50PM 5 points [-]

The idea was developed in the Ravenclaw girls' dorm, by the girls. They summoned a couple of professors for safety, but the word didn't spread outside of that particular group - otherwise there would have been a large and varied mass to see the show, regardless of romantic interest.

Incidentally, is sexual orientation usually well-established by the age of eleven?

Comment author: Pavitra 28 August 2010 09:24:48PM 1 point [-]

The idea was developed in the Ravenclaw girls' dorm, by the girls.

Very good point. My objection is rendered moot.

Incidentally, is sexual orientation usually well-established by the age of eleven?

While this is also a relevant point, I would expect it to have nearly the opposite effect. Before puberty, identification with a sexual orientation would have to be completely socially constructed, so in a gay-friendly society most people should identify as bisexual by default.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 29 August 2010 01:29:45AM *  6 points [-]

Before puberty, identification with a sexual orientation would have to be completely socially constructed, so in a gay-friendly society most people should identify as bisexual by default.

This is not the case. Many gay people know that they are gay at a young age, often well before puberty. Or they realize that they are somehow different from the others around them. Human sexuality is not as simple as an on-off switch with the whole system coming into play when people hit puberty.

Comment author: TobyBartels 29 August 2010 01:20:22AM *  7 points [-]

Before puberty, identification with a sexual orientation would have to be completely socially constructed, so in a gay-friendly society most people should identify as bisexual by default.

A society can be gay-friendly and still heteronormative. In fact, I'd say that contemporary First-World youth fit right into that, although gay-friendliness hasn't spread to the whole society yet. Still, as long as heterosexuals are most common, gays and bis will still be seen as unusual, even if OK. So socially, I expect that most people will still assume that they're het until they learn otherwise.

However (contradicting both you and me), there are gay people who say that they knew that they were gay from a very young age. On the other hand, puberty has been known to mess with one's expectations.

Generalising from one example: I can't quite describe the environment that I grew up in as gay-friendly, only moving in that direction. Perhaps if it had been, then I'd have identified as bisexual at puberty, but perhaps not. In any case, it was a heteronormative environment, so I expected to be attracted to the opposite sex, and was. Then I jumped to conclusions, self-identified as het and suppressed my attraction to the same sex (ETA: because it messed with my idea of who I was) for another ten years. (Before puberty, I was completely asexual.)

Comment author: Pavitra 29 August 2010 03:53:47AM 1 point [-]

On reflection, I was generalizing from one example as well. I was pretty sexual-hangup-y as a kid. I didn't begin to suspect I was gay until I was seventeen, and it was another two or three years after that before I was comfortable with the idea that I had a sex drive at all.

Comment author: Pavitra 28 August 2010 09:35:05PM 6 points [-]

Actually, I've just thought of more stuff. Why would there be gender-segregated dorms in this world?

Unless they're trying to deliberately encourage homosexuality in teenagers as a strategy for avoiding accidental teen pregnancy. This would also explain Lupin's possible attitude (though I may be misreading) that homosexuality is a thing for the young, while adult relationships tend to be heterosexual.

On the other hand, if this were the case, I would expect the childhood sexuality taboo to only apply to heterosexuality, in which case Lupin shouldn't have had the "when you're older" reaction to telling Harry about Sirius and Peter's relationship.

Comment author: TobyBartels 29 August 2010 01:32:49AM *  4 points [-]

Why would there be gender-segregated dorms in this world?

Remember also that the girls' dorms are magically protected against boys, but not conversely (at least in Gryffindor, at least midway in Harry's career). IIRC, Hermione derides the rule as old-fashioned (but then, she's Muggle-born, so that proves nothing).

Unless they're trying to deliberately encourage homosexuality in teenagers as a strategy for avoiding accidental teen pregnancy.

A wise strategy, I would think. One reason why teen pregnancy rates are higher in the more relgious areas of the United States?

This would also explain Lupin's possible attitude (though I may be misreading) that homosexuality is a thing for the young, while adult relationships tend to be heterosexual.

This was the attitude of the classical Greeks (and then Romans), at least for men.

Comment author: Pavitra 29 August 2010 03:55:18AM 4 points [-]

A wise strategy, I would think. One reason why teen pregnancy rates are higher in the more relgious areas of the United States?

I think that has more to do with the idea that it's immoral to provide kids with sex education. (This theory would be falsified if there's a significantly larger difference in teen pregnancy than in teen STDs.)

Comment author: NihilCredo 28 August 2010 10:33:36PM *  8 points [-]

The real answer, of course, is that Hogwarts is shaped after British public schools, and it inherited gender-based dorms just like it did the four-house system.

A possible justification/rationalisation is that there are drastically different dynamics between a sexual attraction that involves a vast majority of the population, and one that involves a minority: heterosexual affections are much more likely to be potentially returned, compared to homosexual ones. Hence, while the occasional homosexual affair will sprout up in an all-male/all-female dorm, a mixed teenage dormitory would be completely overrun with drama, awkwardness, and unpleasant sounds and smells.

Comment author: KevinC 30 August 2010 01:10:22AM 8 points [-]

I can think of a good reason for segregated dorms: In the MoRniverse at least, rape is something aristocratic boys can do casually with the full expectation of getting away with it. Not to mention panty raids and other assorted sexually-harrassing nonsense. Even in a society without medieval/Victorian mores, girls would still need a place of relative safety in which to sleep, shower, dress, etc..

Comment author: Pavitra 30 August 2010 02:56:47AM 1 point [-]

This is a good point.

Is there a specific reason to be significantly more concerned about male-on-female rape than the other three combinations?

Comment author: wnoise 30 August 2010 03:22:33AM 0 points [-]

Well, in practice, it seems to be a lot more common. Certainly a lot more reported.

Comment author: Alicorn 30 August 2010 03:20:36AM 5 points [-]

It's by far the most common, outside of certain highly artificial settings that don't apply to Hogwarts.

Comment author: WrongBot 30 August 2010 09:25:13PM 3 points [-]

Boarding schools and prisons create similar social scenarios. I believe male-male rape/harassment/"hazing" is/was a significant problem in many all-male British boarding schools.

Fraternities fit into more or less the same category, and likewise frequently feature various forms of ritualized homosexuality. It just isn't considered acceptable to acknowledge this; being the receptive partner in gay male sex has been considered damaging to masculinity for thousands of years, in at least the West and Japan.

Comment author: thomblake 30 August 2010 01:13:23PM 2 points [-]

It's by far the most common

I'm not sure 'by far' is appropriate in this context. In the US, for instance, 91% of reported rape victims are female and 9% are male, with estimates usually of about 10% reporting for males and 40% reporting for females, which would yield an actual rate of about 28% of rape victims being male. That's hardly an inconsiderable number.

Though I'm not sure how many of those are in prison, however.

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 31 August 2010 06:38:13AM 1 point [-]

Where are you getting your numbers? They sound to me like they come from the National Crime Victimization Survey. These are not reports to police, but the result of asking random people if they have been raped. I don't think that they sample prisoners, so they are probably highly biased against prison rape, but should catch some.

Comment author: wedrifid 30 August 2010 04:36:00AM *  2 points [-]

I presume you refer to, for example, prisons? Anywhere with sex based segregation and artificially enforced proximity (that rules out ostracism.)

Comment author: Alicorn 30 August 2010 11:27:29AM 3 points [-]

Yes, I had prisons in mind.

Comment author: Pavitra 30 August 2010 03:31:00AM 2 points [-]

I know it's by far the more common in the real world, but MoR!Hogwarts seems to differ significantly in the politics of gender and sexuality from most of real life, and I wanted to investigate how those differences would affect this situation. Since I don't yet have a clear theory of mind regarding why rape occurs or is gender-biased, I was trying to gather explanations from the rest of the peanut gallery.

Comment author: KevinC 30 August 2010 04:20:18AM 2 points [-]

I must have missed the part where we see that MoR!Hogwarts in general differs in gender politics and sexuality than most of real life, except for the "girls can compete in contact sports/armies with boys" bit, but that's a logical consequence of inherent equality of magical power. Lupin and Harry accepted a Peter/Sirius relationship without any squick, but Harry's a child of the Enlightenment (who, by dint of his uber-prodigy-ness likely didn't have jock-type macho-boys or religious conservatives as his formative peer group) and Lupin's a member of a disadvantaged minority himself. Do we have any evidence that someone like Lucius Malfoy would not be about as homophobic as the average medieval baron, of the sort who would teach his son that raping uppity peasant girls with impunity is one of the bennies that comes with "good breeding?" Or that, say, Seamus Finnigan wouldn't have the same kind of teen-boy homophobia/bullying reaction that's fairly common in our world?

Comment author: LucasSloan 28 August 2010 08:20:40PM 3 points [-]

About fifteen percent

Where is this number coming from? The incidence rate of male homosexuality is pretty low and guys are generally less likely to go squee over things anyway.

Comment author: Pavitra 28 August 2010 09:20:40PM 0 points [-]

I heard it somewhere.

WIkipedia says that estimates range from one to twenty percent, and I would expect most estimates to be low because living in a still largely homophobic society biases reporting.

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2010 02:53:32AM 4 points [-]

WIkipedia says that estimates range from one to twenty percent, and I would expect most estimates to be low because living in a still largely homophobic society biases reporting.

Yet often those making the estimates try to compensate for that bias, particularly those who are motivated to report higher statistics.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 28 August 2010 08:11:34AM 4 points [-]

I've been having some problems with MOR Hermione, and chapter 42 amplifies them, with a side issue of what seems like very strange behavior from the other girls.

She seems like a bit of a monster, without concern for whether Harry's apologies actually make sense. Is it plausible that she would have so little interest in fairness?

I'm not talking about whether you think some, or many, women (or girls) would behave like that, but whether it makes sense for Hermione.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 August 2010 05:40:40PM 5 points [-]

This is honestly making me feel a bit aspie over here. As I understand the rules for social interaction, dropping a 12-year-old girl off the roof should generally be recognized as a misdeed. Hermione, as I was modeling her, was annoyed enough by having to climb the icy castle walls, and after falling off the roof, had gone beyond annoyance into a kind of detached curiosity. Bear in mind that she doesn't know anything about Harry's plans for Malfoy; so far as she knows, Harry is doing all of this for no other reason than to be annoying. I had trouble understanding wedifrid's reaction to Harry and hypothesized that he enjoyed empathizing with a dominant character and didn't want that dominant character to apologize, but now Nancy thinks Hermione is being unfair and, well. I feel a bit aspie because I don't quite understand where it's all coming from. Canon!Hermione in particular seems like she'd be really really annoyed with Harry making her climb up an icy wall and then getting her dropped off the roof. She'd forgive it in a flash as part of the war against Voldemort, but not if it was, say, part of a prank. What am I missing here?

Comment author: cousin_it 30 August 2010 04:09:27PM *  2 points [-]

IMO you aren't missing anything. I found your depiction of Hermione's reaction, and Harry's reaction to her reaction, quite realistic. The other commenters are demanding 12-year-olds to be unrealistically sane. In fact most women I know would behave the same way at 20, and a lot of men too.

Comment author: Perplexed 30 August 2010 05:39:04PM 5 points [-]

The other commenters are demanding 12-year-olds to be unrealistically sane.

But 12 year olds are sane - at least relative to what will be going on three years hence. If I were to criticize EY's handling of this stuff, it is that he should have followed canon by putting off dealing with romance issues until the kids are in their third or fourth Hogwarts year.

But, if EY has to drag romance into this story, I wish he wouldn't have the heads all of his minor female characters so filled with romantic mush and gossip about same that they don't seem to be much use for any other purpose. Eliezer gives his male characters a variety of idiosyncratic, yet typical young male foibles - twin Weasley pranks, Ron Weasley quiddich mania, Harry's enthusiasm for things military, even Draco's misogyny. I wouldn't mind if he teased his female characters regarding a variety of equally silly and endearing stereotypically female traits. But it seems he can only think of one.

Comment author: [deleted] 29 August 2010 08:21:58AM 3 points [-]

I don't want to bring up PUA, but...

I had trouble understanding wedifrid's reaction to Harry and hypothesized that he enjoyed empathizing with a dominant character and didn't want that dominant character to apologize

...if you're empathizing with the character...

"I, ah... I don't have much experience apologizing, I'll fall to my knees if you want, or buy you something expensive, Hermione I don't know how to apologize to you for this what can I do just tell me?"

...then one thing you might feel here is searing embarrassment at the sight of a boy acting this way in front of a girl. I had in mind the old saw about men being attracted to looks, women to status. 'I'll do anything, I'm begging you on my knees' is utter abasement, and even if 11-year-old Harry thinks this is what normal interaction between the sexes looks like, it's still painful to see someone humiliate himself.

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2010 10:07:05AM 4 points [-]

...then one thing you might feel here is searing embarrassment at the sight of a boy acting this way in front of a girl.

To be honest I would have been almost as embarrassed if Hermione had done it. And probably even more bewildered.

Comment author: lmnop 29 August 2010 09:42:14AM *  5 points [-]

While it's true that the average man is more attracted to looks than to status, and the average woman is more attracted to status than to looks, be careful not to over-generalize these preferences. Harry doesn't seem to mind, for instance, that Hermione is plain looking, and admires her intelligence, while the average man prefers beautiful women noticeably less intelligent than he is. Hermione isn't particularly attracted to high status men in canon (she picked Ron over Viktor Krum, for chrissakes), and there's no indication that she's different in MoR. Neither of them fit the personality profiles that the PUA community has studied most heavily, which I've heard described as "extroverted young women of average intelligence" and... well, I haven't been informed about the type of men specifically, but I'll hazard a guess that they're not like MoR Harry. So PUA models of interaction between the sexes wouldn't give you very reliable intuitions about how Hermione and Harry should act towards one another. Never mind that they're prepubescent and applying any adult models of interaction that were developed with sexual relations in mind to them seems kind of creepy in the first place. "Relationship" aside, they're mostly friends at this point.

I mean, I agree with you that Harry's apology was rather embarrassing, but that was because it wasn't warranted by the circumstances. If he'd actually done something worthy of an abject apology to Hermione, then he should be giving one, not restraining himself in order to protect his dominance over her.

Comment author: [deleted] 29 August 2010 10:51:52AM 2 points [-]

Yes, this is why I didn't want to bring up PUA -- it drags in a host of connotations which were unrelated to my point. Which was simply that loss of dignity in front of the opposite sex is far more painful for males. The PUA-disclaimer was meant to convey that, even though I attributed the difference to the evo-psych reason I gave, I didn't want to derail the conversation with this sort of thing. Ah well.

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2010 09:57:36AM 2 points [-]

While it's true that the average man is more attracted to looks than to status, and the average woman is more attracted to status than to looks, be careful not to over-generalize these preferences.

The differences are also typically exaggerated in popular culture and also in individual reports. If we compare actual behaviour to reported preferences the sexes are a whole lot more similar in their preferences (when it comes to status and money vs looks) than they tell themselves. Mind you, there is only so much faith I can place in the results of such studies (usually done in speed dating type 'laboratory' settings.)

Comment author: lmnop 29 August 2010 10:10:14AM *  3 points [-]

Interesting. I'm not sure if the correct dichotomy is status vs looks either. It could very well be money vs looks with both as indicators of status, since a woman's status (and ability to confer status on a man with her attention) is often determined by her looks. Have their been studies comparing attraction to, for example, very beautiful female sex workers vs less beautiful cheerleaders? Disclaimer: I'm wildly speculating here...

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2010 10:21:04AM 1 point [-]

Have their been studies comparing attraction to, for example, very beautiful female sex workers vs less beautiful cheerleaders? Disclaimer: I'm wildly speculating here...

Not as far as I know, but there definitely should be. I don't think there is any way such a study could not be interesting. There should also be some studies done on The Cheerleader Effect.

Comment author: Caspian 29 August 2010 05:39:06AM 1 point [-]

People kept emphasising that being dropped was safe, and it didn't feel like Hermione was that afraid of it, probably because the scene wasn't from her point of view. Maybe you could portray that a bit more. When Harry was dropped it was quite vivid that he was overcoming his fear.

Also it seemed obvious that Harry went out on the roof as part of a plan in order not to lose the game, and I assumed Hermione and Draco would have come to the same conclusion. So of course it wasn't a prank. So when Hermione suggested it was revenge for the date and Harry also had something against Draco, she was just joking about their unpleasant situation.

I can see I missed a few things there, but that's how it seemed on my first reading.

I noticed later they might think it would have been easier to win without Hermione having the gloves. So it could be somewhat plausible they'd think it was a prank or revenge, given that they don't know Harry's motives and may jump to conclusions.

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2010 02:55:07AM 1 point [-]

I had trouble understanding wedifrid's reaction to Harry and hypothesized that he enjoyed empathizing with a dominant character and didn't want that dominant character to apologize

I approve of sane apologies.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 28 August 2010 07:53:09PM 3 points [-]

Dropping a twelve year old girl off a roof is generally recognized as a bad idea in this world, but we don't have magic spells.

Hermione was enthusiastic about the war, and had asked to be dropped.

Since I might be a weird person myself, I've set up a poll about the plausibility of MOR Hermione.

Meanwhile, I recommend Jo Walton's Among Others, a fantasy novel with autobiographical elements about the coming of age of an intelligent, stubborn young woman. It won't be out till January, but I'll lend you my advance reading copy if you'll PM me your snail address.

Tentative theory: MOR Hermione is shaped by a combination of feminism and PUA, and the result is extremely odd. In any case, I find Harry, Draco, and McGonigle quite plausible, and I wonder if you've used different methods for creating them than you used for Hermione.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 28 August 2010 09:29:51PM *  3 points [-]

Early returns on the poll suggest that I was generalizing from one example. More people find Hermione plausible than not. Admittedly, it's a small sample, but I'm not expecting the results to reverse.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 August 2010 09:28:28PM 5 points [-]

I know nothing about PUA except what I read in other people's blog comments, and this part honestly leaves me baffled. Wha? Amplify please?

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 28 August 2010 09:52:04PM 5 points [-]

My knowledge of PUA is almost entirely from the comments here, too. Part of what gets on my nerves about it is that it seems to have a model of relationships in which people are in them solely because of status and fertility markers. There's nothing I can see about people actually liking each other (or, for that matter, disliking each other), or not being completely fungible if a better deal comes along.

There's that bit where Harry explains Lily's choice completely in terms of status issues-- this suggests that PUA/evolutionary psychology at least seems like a plausible set of theories to you. It's possible that I'm conflating them as having more in common than they actually do.

It gets to me that Hermione seems to be thinking in terms of herself and Harry having a Relationship rather than focusing on what they actually are to each other-- I think she'd have better sense. Or maybe I just hope she would.

It's interesting that I've gotten upvoted and a couple of positive comments for my complaints about the most recent chapter, while still getting information which suggests that Hermione is generally seen as more plausible than I see her. I tentatively suggest that my suspension of disbelief is broken, while other people are seeing some specific implausibilities that don't bother them nearly as much.

One suggestion about the Ravenclaw girls' vote-- they may well be voting for the most entertaining drama for themselves rather than what's best for Hermione. This may have already occurred to you, considering that so many of them wanted to catch Harry.

In their case, more of them should have generalized from one example.

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2010 02:57:14AM *  3 points [-]

There's nothing I can see about people actually liking each other (or, for that matter, disliking each other), or not being completely fungible if a better deal comes along.

The fact that status influences our behaviours does not make them any less real. Nor does the fact that there are good evolutionarily explainable reasons for loyalty mean that loyalty is any less noble.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 29 August 2010 06:48:50AM 4 points [-]

I agree that status influences our behavior. I don't agree that status is the only thing going on.

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2010 10:14:02AM *  3 points [-]

I agree that status influences our behavior. I don't agree that status is the only thing going on.

If you replaced "I don't agree that" with "I don't believe that" then it would avoid a misleading implication. ;)

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 29 August 2010 01:57:38PM 3 points [-]

I see that you made a claim that I didn't address, but I think you also missed what I was saying.

I haven't seen people who are into PUA make an explicit claim that there's nothing to relationships but status and fertility signaling. What I do see is talk about relationships as though there's nothing else. All I know about you folks is what you write, or at least how your text looks to me.

Comment author: HughRistik 30 August 2010 10:57:26PM 1 point [-]

Do you remember where you saw writing that gives you this impression? I've seen PUAs talk a lot about status and fertility signals underlying relationships. I don't think that the consensus is that "there's nothing else," but I've seen some PUAs write stuff that could give that impression, such as Mystery.

Comment author: wedrifid 30 August 2010 02:56:37AM 2 points [-]

I see that you made a claim that I didn't address, but I think you also missed what I was saying.

I was making almost the opposite point. You addressed a claim that I wouldn't make and I was distancing myself from it!

I haven't seen people who are into PUA make an explicit claim that there's nothing to relationships but status and fertility signaling. What I do see is talk about relationships as though there's nothing else. All I know about you folks is what you write, or at least how your text looks to me.

"You folks"? I am not and have never been a PUA of any kind! You are welcome to your stereotypes but please exclude me from them. :)

Comment author: pjeby 29 August 2010 02:51:00PM *  3 points [-]

What I do see is talk about relationships as though there's nothing else [to relationships but status and fertility signaling].

I believe I've pointed this out before, but at least some "PUA" training emphasizes personal development, emotional connection, and trust as the foundation for interaction and relationships. (The word "status" is not mentioned once on that page, and if I recall correctly, it is not mentioned in any of the videos being sold there either.)

Comment author: TobyBartels 29 August 2010 01:55:29AM *  5 points [-]

It gets to me that Hermione seems to be thinking in terms of herself and Harry having a Relationship rather than focusing on what they actually are to each other-- I think she'd have better sense. Or maybe I just hope she would.

Here maybe I see (but also generalising from one example) why people like your comments but don't qutie agree with you. This is definitely what I'd expect from a 12-year old, at least in the society that I grew up in, which should be similar to Hermione's. (Come to think of it, this reminds me of my sibling at that age, although not myself.) But it's not what I would have hoped.

Comment author: Pavitra 28 August 2010 10:19:41PM 4 points [-]

There's that bit where Harry explains Lily's choice completely in terms of status issues-- this suggests that PUA/evolutionary psychology at least seems like a plausible set of theories to you. It's possible that I'm conflating them as having more in common than they actually do.

As I understand it, there are at least three separate things there: actual scientific evolutionary psychology; pop ev-psych, which is generally used as convenient rationalization for sexism and (less frequently) racism; and PUA, which is less science than engineering, but which comes with certain theories about why it works. I suspect that distinguishing the three properly probably requires a certain level of familiarity with the first one.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 28 August 2010 06:31:21PM 4 points [-]

What am I missing here?

Not as much as I'm missing. They were in the final stage of an important war(game), so climbing icy walls with magic technological help seems to me a minor discomfort, just part of the game. They all had Feather Fall potions, so no-one was in any danger, whatever the lizard brain thinks of looking down from a long way up. Hermione even told Draco to drop her (according to the possibly unreliable girls' chatter afterwards). Harry had no way of knowing exactly how the rooftop chase would play out, although I would guess that he secretly practiced beforehand to get an advantage.

So, what is there for Harry to apologise for, and in such an extreme manner? I was expecting something else to be revealed in 42, but apparently not.

I know nothing about canon HP, but I don't think that matters here.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 30 August 2010 11:59:17AM 0 points [-]

Harry had no way of knowing exactly how the rooftop chase would play out

If Harry had deliberately zapped Hermione to make her stumble and distract Draco, that would explain everything, but in the text he's running away, dodging their spells. He might have set some sort of trap on the roof, but there's no indication in the text.

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2010 03:02:56AM 2 points [-]

Hermione even told Draco to drop her (according to the possibly unreliable girls' chatter afterwards).

(We read that play out ourselves.)

Comment author: katydee 29 August 2010 02:28:20AM 4 points [-]

Have you ever been rock climbing? I assure you that the fact that you're safe, and even the fact that you know you're safe, does not shut off the (untrained) lizard brain, at least not the sort of lizard brain that's afraid of heights.

Comment author: nick012000 28 September 2010 02:10:15AM 2 points [-]

I haven't been rock climbing, but I can tell you that the main reason I'm scared of heights is because I get an urge to jump off, and I have to fight it back down again. If there's a full glass window or something between me and the drop, on the other hand, heights don't bother me at all.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 29 August 2010 07:30:22AM 3 points [-]

It doesn't mean anything afterwards, though, and afterwards is when the puzzling scene happens.

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2010 05:22:43AM 4 points [-]

Have you ever been rock climbing? I assure you that the fact that you're safe, and even the fact that you know you're safe, does not shut off the (untrained) lizard brain, at least not the sort of lizard brain that's afraid of heights.

Bizarrely enough, I went rockclimbing a couple of months ago. The first time in years, and the knowledge that I was safe seemed that it did make a lot of difference. At 50 metres up I deliberately violated the "don't look down" rule because I am somewhat masochistic when it comes to challenging my (miscallibrated) instincts. But the vertigo I expected just didn't come at all - I was genuinely surprised. My theory is that my "lizard brain" was already engaged with my rather stronger competitive instincts.

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 29 August 2010 08:12:33AM 2 points [-]

I find the same thing. Climbing isn't scary at all when you're tied on.

Comment author: bogdanb 30 August 2010 12:04:16PM 1 point [-]

I find the same thing. I don’t, at least not always. I think it differs from person to person.

I only went climbing less than a dozen times, so I can’t be sure about “getting used to it”, but then again Hermione probably wasn’t used to dropping from castles.

When I climb a “simple” vertical wall I don’t get any vertigo or other “lizard-brain complaints” as I had expected. (I rarely get vertigo from heights in general, and among my friends I’m usually the guy closest to any ledge, with everyone telling me to get back, from a safe distance.)

However, I did once a climb an indoor route (not sure about terminology) that wasn’t just vertical, it had a kind of lateral transfer to a ledge at the top, and the part where I didn’t see a wall below me all the way down did feel like having butterflies in my stomach despite being tied to a rope. I liked it, but I can see it as a very unpleasant experience for a bookish (i.e., not a tom-boy) 11 years old girl.

Comment author: TobyBartels 01 September 2010 01:18:29AM 4 points [-]

11 years old girl

Technicality: she's 12 by now; in fact, she's been 12 since mid-September. (Yes, I am a nerd.)

Comment author: whpearson 28 August 2010 06:29:31PM 1 point [-]

My own take on this. Hermione didn't have to go on the roof. She could've thought of a different method of taking Harry down. I forget if it has been specified, is there a time limit? They could've waited for harry to get tired walking about on the roof and picked him off later.

As such she is responsible for the risks she took going on the wall after Harry. Harry should have shown concern after her fall, but a full on apology does seem a bit thick.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 August 2010 03:10:40PM *  4 points [-]

I've been having some problems with MOR Hermione, and chapter 42 amplifies them, with a side issue of what seems like very strange behavior from the other girls.

And just where did this whole 'unanimously vote that Draco should drop Harry' thing come from? Why would a bunch of girls (or anyone) unanimously vote for something so boring? When you have seen someone voluntarily have himself beaten to a pulp how could it be remotely exciting to see him float down a building in controlled circumstances when a girl had already done it voluntarily without preparation? That doesn't sound remotely like the sort of things girls would suggest.

She seems like a bit of a monster, without concern for whether Harry's apologies actually make sense. Is it plausible that she would have so little interest in fairness?

It does seem odd that in the past Harry has made sure that he doesn't moddycoddle Hermione in the battles, realising that she would be insulted if he did and yet now acts in completely the opposite manner. And Hermione and even Draco don't find it strange...

Comment author: TobyBartels 29 August 2010 02:01:48AM 2 points [-]

This could be a situation where nobody really likes the outcome, but (since it was obviously a very fair punishment) they all treated it with respect (wanting to signal that they liked it). So nobody suggested anything really exciting, figuring that nobody else would go along with it. (There's a name for that fallacy of decision, where everybody votes for their second choice to be nice, since they think that it's the first choice of everybody else.)

Or else, they each had a secret plan (to summon Harry to their arms).

Comment author: lmnop 28 August 2010 09:50:52AM *  2 points [-]

Hermione and Harry are acting a bit out of character in these last few chapters. Canon Hermione is straightforward, sometimes even abrasive, and extremely concerned with fairness. That is why she started S.P.E.W., after all. I can understand making her more social and diplomatic in order to strengthen her above canon, but the preoccupation with fairness and justice is pretty central to her personality. Is she toying with Harry (which isn't like her), or are they both blind to how silly he's being?

This apology business doesn't strike me as cute, like Ch. 36 was. It's just strange.

Comment author: LucasSloan 28 August 2010 06:18:21AM *  12 points [-]

Am I the only one who now wants to campaign for gay rights with the slogan "Death Eaters against homophobia!"?

Comment author: LucasSloan 28 August 2010 05:35:05AM *  17 points [-]

Is it the author's opinion that the creation of house elves was a terribly evil deed? It would seem that to think that after their creation, they would want to do what they have been designed to do and so would be no more evil than creating an intelligence which would want to bowl and fish all day. Even if we accept that creating conscious entities which are forced by means of their preferences to do menial work is wrong, it would seem to be better to create them, than to force those who don't enjoy such work to do it. Is Harry just confused by his intuitions about the evil of slavery, without sufficient reflection?

ETA: While this argument works in the abstract and is useful for countering human biases against "slavery" and applies in the particular for the creation of Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons, house elves have addition features I wasn't considering which makes their creation morally evil.

Comment author: TobyBartels 29 August 2010 02:16:13AM 5 points [-]

Is Harry just confused by his intuitions about the evil of slavery, without sufficient reflection?

That's certainly canon!Hermione's problem.

But there is something wrong with House-Elves, at least in canon, even after whatever went into their creation. They enjoy serving humans, fine; I'm with MoR!Harry about that. But (possibly unbeknownst to Harry and Hermione yet) there are House-Elves who are very unhappy with their current situation, such as Dobby (who disliked his master) and Winky (who loved her master but was fired and never recovered from this). It always bothered me that canon!Hermione never outgrew her early phase of S.P.E.W. and never tried to do anything that would actually help them. (However, the Word of God is that she did help them in her adulthood, so that's all right then.)

Comment author: NihilCredo 28 August 2010 10:49:54PM 4 points [-]

Even if we accept that creating conscious entities which are forced by means of their preferences to do menial work is wrong, it would seem to be better to create them, than to force those who don't enjoy such work to do it.

This is a bit of a false dichotomy - you don't have to force anyone to do it. Offer a sufficiently high salary to scrub Hogwarts' toilet (or just to cast Cleaning Charms on them), and voila, you have free-willed, willing, unmodified house workers.

The meaningful question (at least, to the degree that any moral question can be meaningful) is whether there is any value in that "unmodified" qualifier.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 28 August 2010 11:12:42PM 0 points [-]

They still don't enjoy the work, even if they find doing it instrumentally rational. They are forced to do it by circumstances, and in a better world they wouldn't be.

Comment author: NihilCredo 29 August 2010 12:24:08AM *  3 points [-]

But in a world with house elves, they are even worse off - they are just unemployed, rather than having the option of taking the job. I doubt more than a trifling amount of the money saved by Hogwarts trickles down to them.

I realise that considering the effect of house elves on the job market goes far outside the scope of this problem in the philosophy of consciousness, and much far outside the scope of the Potterverse; but once you start taking into account the welfare of the hypothetical replacements for house elves, there's no real way to dodge the question.

For philosophical debates, it's probably better to stick with the pig that wants to be eaten.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 29 August 2010 12:52:03AM *  0 points [-]

I pointed out that your argument doesn't contradict Locas's statement that those who don't enjoy the work will be forced to do it, and specifically disclaimed that choosing to do the work regardless might well be rational of them (and hence making them better off). Yet in reply you elaborate in what manner this decision can be rational, as if objecting to what I said. I don't see what you disagree with (besides usage of the word "forced").

Also:

But in a world with house elves, they are even worse off - they are just unemployed, rather than having the option of taking the job.

They are not unemployed, they choose the next best option available.

Comment author: NihilCredo 29 August 2010 09:55:23AM 0 points [-]

I don't see what you disagree with (besides usage of the word "forced").

That.

They are not unemployed, they choose the next best option available.

You're right. It's still a strictly worse situation for them, though, since they lose one option and gain nothing.

Comment author: Pavitra 28 August 2010 11:12:11PM 2 points [-]

The meaningful question (at least, to the degree that any moral question can be meaningful) is whether there is any value in that "unmodified" qualifier.

It matters precisely to the extent that the premodified entity desires to not be modified and that the premodified entity's values matter.

That the premodified entity's values matter seems to have been generally assumed all round in this thread. That the premodified entity desires to not be modified seems an extremely reasonable assumption.

Comment author: NihilCredo 29 August 2010 12:17:51AM *  0 points [-]

Sorry, I should have used "non-artificial" or something else; I intended to also include the quoted case of house elves having been created ad hoc.

Comment author: Pavitra 29 August 2010 12:43:20AM 3 points [-]

I maintain that house-elves created from scratch are completely different from identical house-elves created by modifying free elves against their will. Lumping the two together will produce non-well-defined moral judgments.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 28 August 2010 07:25:10PM 3 points [-]

Is it wrong to make a pig that wants to be eaten?

Comment author: LucasSloan 28 August 2010 08:08:55PM 2 points [-]

I'm not sure, but I wouldn't make one and would work to prevent one's creation. On the one hand, death is an intrinsic evil, unlike mere drudgery. On the other hand, I support the right to self terminate.

Comment author: Pavitra 28 August 2010 09:16:13PM 3 points [-]

death is an intrinsic evil

Have you ever closed an application on your computer? What distinguishes a person from any other computation, and why does that particular distinction carry so much moral weight?

Comment author: LucasSloan 29 August 2010 12:27:26AM 4 points [-]

What distinguishes a person from any other computation

A person is reflectively self aware.

and why does that particular distinction carry so much moral weight?

Evolution built me to care about humans, and upon reflection, the values I have include non-humans who have features like being reflectively self aware.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 29 August 2010 06:36:54AM 1 point [-]

There's also Hayekian arguments-- self-aware agents are apt to accumulate information about their own desires and activities. Systems which allow that information to have an effect seem to be more capable.

Comment author: Pavitra 29 August 2010 12:39:26AM 2 points [-]

Is that what you would want to want, given the option, or is that a lizard-brain instinct that gets in the way of your ability to evaluate what's really the right thing to do?

Comment author: LucasSloan 29 August 2010 05:31:43AM -1 points [-]

upon reflection

Comment author: Pavitra 29 August 2010 06:13:45AM 0 points [-]

I can still interpret that either way. Do you mean that on reflection you realize that you emotionally desire that, or that on reflection you *decide" that that's what's important?

Comment author: lmnop 28 August 2010 09:40:37AM 0 points [-]

Or they could've just created self cleaning houses, so no one is forced to do work.

Comment author: blogospheroid 28 August 2010 02:03:45PM 0 points [-]

Needs multiply. If houses and clothes were self-cleaning and self-repairing, there would be other, high-end tasks that need taking care of, which may not be automatically fun. taking care of the lawn, cooking (for some people and for most meals is not fun).

As your mundane tasks increase due to better technology, it is useful to have someone take them over.

It is very useful to have an AI loyal to you.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 August 2010 06:24:46AM 0 points [-]

Which chapter was Harry discussing the creation of house elves in?

Comment author: LucasSloan 28 August 2010 06:26:49AM 2 points [-]

It said something about a person that he tried not to bother house elves. Specifically, it said that he'd been Sorted into Hufflepuff, since, to the best of Harry's knowledge, Hermione was the only non-Hufflepuff who worried about bothering house elves. (Harry himself thought her qualms rather silly. Whoever had created house elves in the first place had been unspeakably evil, obviously; but that didn't mean Hermione was doing the right thing now by denying sentient beings the drudgery they had been shaped to enjoy.)

Chaper 42.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 August 2010 07:12:21AM 0 points [-]

Thanks. I do remember my eyes glazing over a bit around about then but that's a good point I missed.

Comment author: Pavitra 28 August 2010 05:56:45AM 8 points [-]

I think it's worth distinguishing creating work-loving entities ex nihilo from modifying existing entities against their will to become work-loving. Canon rather implies the latter; handling the procedure ethically would be tricky, as baseline elves likely would not only resist being value-enslaved, but would want the children they birth and raise to be like themselves.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 August 2010 05:36:02AM 18 points [-]

Is it the author's opinion that the creation of house elves was a terribly evil deed?

It had been, but...

Even if we accept that creating conscious entities which are forced by means of their preferences to do menial work is wrong, it would seem to be better to create them, than to force those who don't enjoy such work to do it.

...is a powerful argument I had never considered.

Comment author: KevinC 30 August 2010 01:24:50AM *  10 points [-]

Though there's logic to this argument, pretty much everything else about the way house elves were made is evil. They're created, or conditioned to brutally torture themselves if they even think they've displeased their masters or broken a rule. They have no labor rights and can be mistreated at will, to the point that mistreatment is built in as a product feature.

We can only imagine what sort of miserable Dickensian conditions they live in when they're not at work. They're forced to wear ragged, salvaged sacks, as giving them clothes = firing them, i.e. denying them the work and subservient position they're designed to want. This is a needless cruelty on top of everything else. Heck, if I were an aristocrat wizard with house elves, I'd want mine to go around in elegant livery, as a demonstration of how magnificent my Estate is. But I couldn't do that, because the poor little creatures were made (modified?) by a sadist.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 30 August 2010 06:57:13PM 6 points [-]

True. You have persuaded me back to my original position. Whoever made house elves was disgusting. It could have been done right (complementary intelligent species that enjoys doing a lot of necessary things we don't, while still having rich lives of their own), but it wasn't.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 30 August 2010 07:40:53PM 2 points [-]

This is pointing at a general problem in sf-- problems are needed to move the plot along, so some development which might have good or mixed results is burdened with other features that make it obviously bad.

The usual handling of longevity and immortality in sf is an example, but so is the [spoiler] included with the cosmetic surgery in Westerfeld's Uglies or an AI in a novel called B.E.A.S.T. which was challenged by throwing a series of deadly attacks at it-- it becomes violent and we have a story, but what would happen with a better treated AI would be more interesting.

Comment author: cousin_it 30 August 2010 04:16:47PM 3 points [-]

Do you think it would be evil to create house elves that honestly enjoy their jobs and situations?

Comment author: Alicorn 30 August 2010 01:29:49AM 7 points [-]

Heck, if I were an aristocrat wizard with house elves, I'd want mine to go around in elegant livery, as a demonstration of how magnificent my Estate is. But I couldn't do that

You could get them elegantly embroidered little dishtowels clipped into place with stylized sugar tongs made of silver.

Comment author: blogospheroid 31 August 2010 09:47:44AM 1 point [-]

You can't give them clothes, but no one said anything about not giving them ARMOR. Give them fine spider silk armor, it will be indistinguishable from silk.

Comment author: Pavitra 30 August 2010 02:58:06AM 1 point [-]

Hogwarts elves in canon do wear something very much like that.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 August 2010 07:17:33AM 8 points [-]

...is a powerful argument I had never considered.

How would you say this relates to the ethics of creating an FAI? In some ways house elves were created for a similar reason that we would create an FAI. Would it be something about 'consciousness' that separates the two constructions ethically? If so, I wonder whether creating a 'helper' agent that in some sense is conscious and 'enjoys' what it does is better or worse than creating a raw optimised agent that we wouldn't consider conscious.

It occurs to me that what a house elf considers fun is not all that much different from the perspective of all of value-space from what we might consider fun.

Comment author: Randaly 28 August 2010 03:34:01AM 2 points [-]

Ch. 33-34 Author's Note: "It is a general law of MoR that no one is ever holding the Idiot Ball."

We know (from Ch. 42) that Sirius is in Azkaban. Canon!Sirius was thrown in without a trial, and without having been administered veritaserum; however, this would seem to require the Ministry and Dumbledore to both be holding the Idiot Ball, violating the above rule. Alternately, Sirius could have been obviated personally by Voldemort, prior to his death (I assume that an obviation subtle enough to escape notice would require Voldemort), but this strikes me as unnecessarily complex.

However, it seems to me that the most obvious way for Eliezer to continue with the plotline is to simply make Sirius actually be a traitor, and Peter actually be a hero. This would wrap up several previously mentioned discrepancies (e.g. Scabber's death), and also preserve his ability to spring a surprise twist on everybody even though we already know what occurred in canon.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 August 2010 04:16:00AM *  0 points [-]

However, it seems to me that the most obvious way for Eliezer to continue with the plotline is to simply make Sirius actually be a traitor, and Peter actually be a hero. This would wrap up several previously mentioned discrepancies (e.g. Scabber's death), and also preserve his ability to spring a surprise twist on everybody even though we already know what occurred in canon.

This is what Eliezer has already done (in the early chapters). If Eliezer switched it up and made Sirius not the traitor it would undermine two of Eliezer's morals: "Conspiracy Theories, paranoia and schizophrenia" and "Courage isn't about being too awesome to need to be scared, it's about doing stuff even when you do have reason to be scared".

Comment author: TobyBartels 30 August 2010 12:56:17AM *  1 point [-]

"Courage isn't about being too awesome to need to be scared, it's about doing stuff even when you do have reason to be scared".

In canon, it was precisely Peter's fear (greater than that of his friends) which led him to join Voldemort. So while I wouldn't like to see Sirius made into a bad guy (since I side with wrongfully convicted prisoners and don't want them to turn out to be guilty after all), it would be a powerful statement in favour of the power to overcome one's fears if Peter stayed a good guy.

Comment author: wedrifid 30 August 2010 03:29:17AM 1 point [-]

it would be a powerful statement in favour of the power to overcome one's fears if Peter stayed a good guy.

It would also be a powerful lesson if Peter was able to see when his loyalty to a certain 'side' was irrational and make a considered choice to do the action that best allowed him to achieve his own goals. But that is exactly the wrong kind of signal for Eliezer to convey! ;)

Comment author: TobyBartels 01 September 2010 12:15:36AM *  1 point [-]

That would be a Family-Unfriendly Aesop (TVTropes).

As far as the methods of decision-theoretic rationality go, whatever Peter ultimately wants is OK and not for us to judge; we just consider how he should best go about achieving his goals. But MoR is not just a lesson book in rationality, and I'm happy for works of fiction to give absolute moral lessons too (at least if I agree with them ^_^).

Comment author: wedrifid 01 September 2010 04:48:04AM 4 points [-]

TvTropes!

Comment author: TobyBartels 01 September 2010 11:41:58PM 3 points [-]

Sorry, am I supposed to warn people? Done.

Comment author: wedrifid 01 September 2010 11:56:48PM 3 points [-]

I don't know about supposed to but I like to and tend to appreciate it when others do. It reminds me to consider the tendency for humans to be whisked away into an endless depth first search of popular culture references.

Comment author: wedrifid 30 August 2010 03:26:57AM 0 points [-]

This is just why I would be shocked if the 'Sirius bad' idea was reversed. The lessons the side plot has already conveyed are solid!

Comment author: Gabriel 29 August 2010 02:14:13AM 1 point [-]

Funny, I've got the opposite impression -- that Eliezer was setting up to use Sirius' story as an example of how the obvious explanation is not always right and how reality is allowed to be weird and present you with evidence leading to wrong conclusions.

What puzzles me more is how Eliezer will explain the fact that Bill Weasley randomly guessed about Pettigrew and the others being animagi? That problem doesn't go away regardless of whether Sirius was the traitor or not. Did he really travel back in time? Schizophrenic wizards temporarily become seers? Maybe it's another emergent phenomenon?

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2010 02:47:52AM 1 point [-]

Funny, I've got the opposite impression -- that Eliezer was setting up to use Sirius' story as an example of how the obvious explanation is not always right and how reality is allowed to be weird and present you with evidence leading to wrong conclusions.

I'd like to see that. Just because I really didn't like it when Bill got messed over like that.

Comment author: Pavitra 29 August 2010 04:17:27AM 0 points [-]

Sometimes the world is just cruel for no reason.

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2010 05:40:25AM 1 point [-]

I didn't mean to suggest that it was unrealistic. It is a far more likely interpretation of events and a rather clever observation. I just didn't like it. It make me sad. :)

Comment author: Pavitra 29 August 2010 06:21:29AM 0 points [-]

I know. But I thought Eliezer may have been trying to make a deliberate point, and I wanted to draw it out.

Comment author: Alicorn 29 August 2010 02:16:18AM 3 points [-]

about Pettigrew and the others being animagi

Are we sure that, in MoR, they were?

Comment author: TobyBartels 30 August 2010 12:52:32AM 0 points [-]

That's what I assumed that the secret in Chapter 42 was, until it wasn't.

Comment author: KevinC 30 August 2010 12:45:25AM 1 point [-]

As I recall, In MoR, the Marauder's Map is an ancient artifact that's starting to break down a bit, so "Messers Moony, Padfoot, Wormtail, and Prongs" are not Lupin, Sirius, Peter, and James Potter under animagus-based nicknames. Unless Fred and George are wrong about the Map's origins, though being the master pranksters of the MoRniverse (and canon, for that matter) it seems likely that their judgment would be sound in this case. So, evidence that MoR!Pettigrew, et. al. are not necessarily animagi.

Comment author: TobyBartels 01 September 2010 01:39:10AM *  0 points [-]

I interpreted it that the Messrs put their names on the front of this ancient artefact. From Chapter 25:

And the Weasley twins weren't about to turn the Map over to Dumbledore. It would have been an unforgivable insult to the Marauders - the four unknowns who'd managed to steal part of the Hogwarts security system, something probably forged by Salazar Slytherin himself, and twist it into a tool for student pranking.

By the way, this reminds me that the Twins seem to have found a couple of errors on the map:

"Intermittent one fixed itself again. Other one's same as ever."

(That's why they might have shown it to Dumbledore, to get it fixed.) In canon, there are important (and only apparent) errors on the map in Book 3, showing Peter Pettigrew and Bartemius Crouch. What are they showing now?

Comment author: Gabriel 29 August 2010 04:20:41PM 3 points [-]

I'm assuming that Eliezer makes major changes to canon only when it is neccessary to make the story work and that he will exploit resultant opportunities to mock canon, other fanfiction, conspiracy theories etc. but not go out of his way to create them. Yeah, that's a big assumption.

But also, there were hints. Lupin is poor so he is still a werewolf. When discussing the Weasleys' family rat story, Harry mentioned rumors that "Black deliberately tried to get a student killed during his time at Hogwarts". In canon, Black tried to trick Snape into following Lupin when the latter was about to turn during a full moon. So they knew. They still made the map (it was featured in one of the chapters, right?). Well, they didn't have to be animagi to do that, but come on, you can't take away a major aspect of their friendship and have everything else turn out exactly the same (except the teenage gay romance thing).

Comment author: thomblake 29 August 2010 02:25:40AM 1 point [-]

Indeed, there has some skepticism about this expressed in the reviews

Comment author: MBlume 28 August 2010 03:29:18AM 12 points [-]

Upon seeing DinosaurusGede's awesome pic, my first thought was that were I able to draw (I cannot), I would draw Dumbledore wailing on an electric guitar and saying "THIS was your father's rock".

Comment author: wedrifid 28 August 2010 03:18:22PM 3 points [-]

I just got an urge to take a sip of Comed-Tea.

Comment author: wedrifid 27 August 2010 09:32:47AM 8 points [-]

(41)

So, traitors. Were there any? Did they play any part in the fight at all or was it just the principle of the thing? The whole point of the Draco+Hermione vs Harry war was on the subject of unity. I was kind of hoping for some object lessons on just how much Harry's advantage of being able to trust his soldiers helped him while Draco and Hermione had to put in place extra precautions to protect themselves from sleeper agents. Or, well, even an offhand mention of "Chaos got 3 extra fighters" to acknowledge the issue.

Comment author: magfrump 28 August 2010 08:14:27PM 1 point [-]

Agreed, I was waiting to hear about this and disappointed that it didn't come up.

Comment author: KevinC 27 August 2010 08:39:38AM 4 points [-]

One thing I do find myself wondering about this latest chapter is why neither of these two Most Brilliant Students (Hermione and Draco) seem to have thought of "Accio Broom!" or "Wingardiam Leviosa" instead of pursuing Harry with Gecko Gloves. If one or both of them is flying while Harry's got his hands stuck to a wall, they win. Also, since they've been fighting Chaos soldiers using hover charms to move while using ball bearings to make the floors impassable, they should have at least tried to adapt and use that strategy (granting that they can't use brooms or other means of flight due to rules of engagement or some such) when facing Harry on the roof. They need to work on their OODA Loops. ;)

Comment author: FAWS 27 August 2010 09:53:48AM 3 points [-]

Brooms are illegal magical artifacts, Wingardium Leviosa presumably too impractical because because it offers neither sufficient mobility to dodge nor allows for using cover so extended use (as opposed to using it just to pass obstacles) would make the levitated person an easy target (Harry can still cast with one hand while hanging on with the other and his feet), and would soon exhaust the levitating person as well. Besides they would be giving up their two to one advantage.

Comment author: KevinC 28 August 2010 04:11:55AM 3 points [-]

Good points, but I think that with some practice in teamwork of the sort employed in Neville's "Special Attacks," they could have come up with something. Say, Draco levitating Hermione horizontally out the window, so she can use a Shield Charm to cover herself completely while Draco moves her out of Harry's one-handed firing arc. Throw in a baseball-style hand-signal code between them, so if Harry is concentrating on Hermione, Draco lets her go while she casts Leviosa on herself, and he zaps Harry, or if Harry tries to take aim at Draco, Hermione drops her shield charm and fires. And this assumes that neither of them (or Genius!Harry himself, for that matter) can come up with a better flying spell than Wingardiam Leviosa.

Maybe their problem is that they weren't quite ready for that level of teamwork, though if it was me in either of their places I'd have wanted to look into developing an inventory of "Special Attack" type maneuvers after seeing them work so well for Chaos.

OTOH, the likely real reason is that the Gecko Gloves give Harry a chance to use Science! in a fun way, so the Rule of Cool applies. Still, reactionless flight is such a trivial matter in the Potterverse that I still found myself wondering why they just went out after Harry on his own terms instead of trying to wield air power against him somehow. Maybe a couple lines of dialogue along the lines of "Why don't we use [flight-based attack X]?" "We can't because Harry would just use an Indra's Net Jinx!" (or some other expected counter that makes using the Gecko Gloves then sliding around on the slippery roof their best response to the situation).

Comment author: wedrifid 28 August 2010 04:42:11AM *  3 points [-]

Draco lets her go while she casts Leviosa on herself,

Does that work? I know Voldemort can fly but I got the impression that was something a bit more advanced than Winguardium Leviosa. Something off the order of an enhanced continuous form of apparation that requires huge amounts of concentration and skill to maintain. It would come with an advanced understanding of the mechanics of magical transport, along the same lines of Harry's advanced understanding allowing him to partially transfigure objects.

Still, reactionless flight is such a trivial matter in the Potterverse

I know brooms can fly but have we been given reason to believe that reactionless flight is trivial in the 'first years can do it' sense? It sounds like the sort of thing Harry would have tested but I could have forgotten him doing so. If self casting doesn't work then try casting winguardium leviosa on a heavy object while yourself floating on a raft in a tub, measuring the displacement of water...

Comment author: KevinC 30 August 2010 01:02:48AM 1 point [-]

Oops, I should have been more clear. By "reactionless flight is trivial" I meant in general, not necessarily for persons playing Superman. Wingardium Leviosa is a spell that generates reactionless flight, and it's literally the first thing kids learn. It can be used on persons and has already been employed in combat in MoR (e.g. "Chaotic Twist!"). Then there's other things like Quick Quotes Quills that float and move reactionlessly as they write, brooms, flying carpets, etc.. Since Hermione is a stupendous genius with spells even in Canon, and MoR!Draco is no slouch himself, it just seems likely to me that they would have tried to come up with something. Leviosa on a chair, or Hermione's shoes as a semi-permanent enchantment ("Wait, Draco, I know some 3rd Level spells..."), or something like that.

But it's nothing the Rule of Cool and the MST3K Mantra can't fix. :)

Comment author: NihilCredo 28 August 2010 06:42:12AM 1 point [-]

Consulting the wiki, it does state that "Snape could fly without the use of a broom or any other visible materialistic support. The only other wizard that was known to be able to do this is Lord Voldemort, who most likely taught Snape the method to do so."

Comment author: wedrifid 28 August 2010 06:59:31AM 0 points [-]

Interesting. That seems to fit well enough with my theory of 'advanced generalisation of apparition-type magic' so I'll run with that hypothesis until something better or MoR!authoritative comes along.

Comment author: wedrifid 26 August 2010 02:21:09PM *  3 points [-]

Chapter 41 (So spoiler alert and chapter notification.)

(Fun chapter and all... go Neville! But...)

Harry is a total wuss. What on earth is he doing going about with grotesque supplication and begging for forgiveness?

  • Hermione explicitly ordered Draco to let her go.
  • Hermione was juiced on feather-fall and would fall gracefully down. The main reason wizards wouldn't jump down from heights with feather-fall is because it would be too boring. It gets interesting when you don't have feather fall and risk crashing to the ground because a beater knocked you unconscious.
  • When telling Draco to drop her she was actually exploiting Harry's emotional weakness. That weakness being Harry's overprotective romantic feelings for Hermione.
  • Rather than than accept the successful implementation of a rather complicated strategy and having a one on one face off with Draco Harry goes about shrieking like a girl, letting Draco pick him off. Nice work Hermione. Harry, learn from your mistake, don't apologise to Hermione for her outplaying you.
  • Harry had been throwing about ball bearings and bungee cords. Both of those sound more dangerous than floating down off buildings. Seriously. Running around shooting each other inside a multi-story building on ball bearings? Those windows are not particularly well protected.
  • Hermione was at that time joining forces with another army to annihilate Harry to force her will upon him. Some people are best treated like fragile princesses or have their hands held like children, but ruthless domineering enemy generals don't fit in that category. Allowing people to experience some minor discomfort while they are in the process of crossing you isn't usually a bad thing.
  • What was Harry doing giving two doses of feather fall? Give Hermione one dose which (probably) gives Draco the chance to come out and take up Harry's challenge. I can only hope that Harry was deliberately losing as part of some arbitrary social agenda. (I can think of reasons for Harry to orchestrate the scenario that eventuated. I can think of just as many reasons for him to just win.)

There obviously isn't any need for Harry to be obnoxious about it. I would expect Hermione to consider that Harry owes him for that one. I would acknowledge a certain symbolic debt and fulfil demands for recompense (within reason) with grace and good cheer. But remorse of the kind Harry was throwing around is something that matters. Sometimes you really do screw up, and that's when you need forgiveness. Throwing out your biggest apologies when you did basically the right thing and would (if you were sane) do roughly the same thing again next time just cheapens the whole thing. Just how much does an apology mean if you go around apologising to people for, roughly speaking, wussing out and letting them beat you?

(Mind you, I'm evaluating Harry by the standards of the someone somewhat closer to the age that he acts than to the 11 years old that he technically is. With a few years of marinating in testosterone ahead there is hope for him yet.)

Comment author: knb 29 August 2010 05:01:19AM *  1 point [-]

I don't think Harry is romantically interested in Hermione, he still thinks kissing is icky, etc.

I figured Harry gave Draco and Hermione the potion because he wanted them to triumph over him together, but in a really dramatic challenging way. If their triumph was hard-fought and dramatic they would be more likely to bond over it. Once Draco was friends with a muggleborn, he would be forever lost to the blood-purists, and Harry would have one a great victory. That is what Harry cares about the most. He obviously is willing to lose to let it happen because he engineered the Dramione alliance from the beginning.

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2010 05:34:45AM 2 points [-]

I don't think Harry is romantically interested in Hermione, he still thinks kissing is icky, etc.

Really? I thought those two things were entirely compatible. And rather cute. :)

Comment author: NihilCredo 28 August 2010 06:31:09AM 1 point [-]

With a few years of marinating in testosterone ahead he can only get much, much worse.

Fixed for you.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 August 2010 07:07:56AM 1 point [-]

It does seem to happen that way sometimes, doesn't it? But in my observation the only cases where marinating in testosterone makes people worse in the areas of grovelling, supplication, unnecessary apologies and approval seeking are in people who refuse to update based on evidence. We can assume that unlike many nerds Harry is able to make observations from the environment and use them to realise that his strategy doesn't work and go ahead and create a better model of human behaviour and a better strategy.

In guys who are good at instinctive instrumental rationality will tend to be prompted by testosterone to, as they say, 'grow a pair'. Simply because experience tells them that the other options just don't work.

Comment author: TobyBartels 27 August 2010 04:39:24AM 2 points [-]

First you write

What on earth is he doing going about with grotesque supplication and begging for forgiveness?

Then you write

That weakness being Harry's overprotective romantic feelings for Hermione.

I think that you've answered your question.

Comment author: wedrifid 27 August 2010 08:39:49AM 1 point [-]

I think that you've answered your question.

And, in so doing reinforced the core thesis: Harry!Ch41 is a wuss. The overprotective thing can work, particularly when produces displays of dominance or heroism (eg. Christmas Eve dinner) but pointless supplication is the opposite of what he wants to be doing.

It totally breaks the flow of the story for me. If I am reading along empathising with the main character and he pulls stunts like this I feel a huge surge of revulsion. This is particularly the case if it seems like the behaviour is presented as a good moral that gives good results rather than "look at the naive character act like a git and then realise he needs to wise up!"

Comment author: TobyBartels 27 August 2010 06:15:09PM *  3 points [-]

And, in so doing reinforced the core thesis

Sure, I agree with that.

But I don't agree with this:

It totally breaks the flow of the story for me.

It finally made Harry seem like a real person to me again. I like seeing how MoR!Harry (and MoR!everybody) differs from canon, but sometimes he's a little too perfect.

look at the naive character act like a git and then realise he needs to wise up!

I expect that to happen in a later chapter. Surely EY doesn't think that Harry is acting sensibly? That would be a horror! (Unless Harry has some really devious plot that I don't anticipate, of course.)

Comment author: wedrifid 28 August 2010 02:42:22AM 1 point [-]

It finally made Harry seem like a real person to me again. I like seeing how MoR!Harry (and MoR!everybody) differs from canon, but sometimes he's a little too perfect.

That's just eh experience I got from chapter 36 (visiting the Grangers), my favourite chapter thus far.

I expect that to happen in a later chapter. Surely EY doesn't think that Harry is acting sensibly? That would be a horror! (Unless Harry has some really devious plot that I don't anticipate, of course.)

I think that's the thing for me. I actually aren't so sure. Some of the other foolish things Harry has done MoR!Author seems to be trying to convey as sensible decisions. For example... the other apology Harry has made to Hermione. When Hermione had panicked and cast finate incantatem on their transfiguration work. The apology itself was reasonable but it seemed like both Harry and MoR!Author were trying to convey that casting finate was a sane thing to do. Not, for example, isolating the room and running to fetch McGonagal. Being responsible doesn't mean turning off your brain at the first sign of danger!

ETA: The latest chapter was interesting. Less nauseating but more bizarre.

"Yeah," said Draco. "I understand."

Not.

"Yeah." said Draco. "Hey Harry, I've been meaning to thank you. It was your advice that allowed me to override my instincts up here. In fact, it was what allowed me to beat you. So let me return the favour and give you a lesson in personal boundaries that I learned when I was four."

Comment author: TobyBartels 29 August 2010 12:48:48AM *  0 points [-]

H'm, you may be right. Altough it may yet be accepted that Harry was overreacting.

Anyway, it leads to a nice introduction to Remus!

(Edit: add ‘although’ in first line, which is really what I meant all along.)

Comment author: Pavitra 26 August 2010 10:04:45PM 2 points [-]

The feather-fall potions were protection against a case that wasn't supposed to happen. Harry doesn't take precautions so that he's licensed to need them, he takes precautions so that people don't get hurt. Hermione falling wasn't supposed to happen -- he endangered her for the sake of a game. He raised the stakes farther than they were supposed to go, and it was someone else who could have gotten hurt.

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 26 August 2010 05:55:58PM *  3 points [-]

Hermione was juiced on feather-fall and would fall gracefully down. The main reason wizards wouldn't jump down from heights with feather-fall is because it would be too boring. It gets interesting when you don't have feather fall and risk crashing to the ground because a beater knocked you unconscious.

Yes, but using feather-fall costs her Quirrell points! That's why she's upset. Or at least, that's one hypothesis that explain the facts. Harry's apology is unnecessary grovelly otherwise.

Comment author: NihilCredo 28 August 2010 06:39:19PM 1 point [-]

Yes, but using feather-fall costs her Quirrell points!

It's a great point and should get mentioned in the text. Even if it's only a minor reason for Hermione's annoyance, it would tie in nicely with the earlier scene of Hermione having trouble knocking on Quirrell's door.

Comment author: wedrifid 27 August 2010 09:14:51AM 1 point [-]

Yes, but using feather-fall costs her Quirrell points!

Excellent. That is the desirable outcome. If enemies unite against you should sabotage their Quirrell points wherever convenient.

"So Granger, how about next time you want something from me you ask nicely for me to participate before you unite with Malfoy?"

Comment author: Pavitra 28 August 2010 10:05:39PM 0 points [-]

They tried that, didn't they? All three generals went to Quirrell together to ask for no more traitors. Harry defected.

Comment author: lmnop 26 August 2010 10:16:10PM 1 point [-]

Eh, even if Quirrel points were the problem, Harry's apology is still unnecessarily grovelly.

Comment author: wedrifid 27 August 2010 09:26:52AM 0 points [-]

Eh, even if Quirrel points were the problem, Harry's apology is still unnecessarily grovelly.

I would go as far as to say the grovelling is worse if the Quirrell points were the problem.

  • If the falling from the building was what Harry was worried about then that would just suggest that Harry is terrible at risk assessment and lacks mature boundaries (ie. considers Draco dropping Hermione at her command after both enemies chose to got out on the ledge his responsibility not hers). But once those errors in reasoning are accepted then some serious remorse would seem called for. The main problem with the apology would be that emphasised begging for approval above expressing sincere remorse.
  • If the only issue was Quirrell points then even devoid of the approval seeking the level of remorse would be absurd.
Comment author: thomblake 26 August 2010 03:57:49PM 3 points [-]

bungee cords

Also, I don't think fire is prohibited, so did Harry warn everyone that they shouldn't try eliminating his bungee cords by burning them?

Harry is a total wuss.

Unsurprising, and I don't see it as a problem.

letting Draco pick him off... I can only hope that Harry was deliberately losing as part of some arbitrary social agenda

Come on - Harry clearly manipulated that situation and needed to lose to make it work. Forcing Draco and Hermione to work together would not have worked nearly as well if they hadn't actually beaten them. Now Hermione doesn't think Draco is evil and irredeemable (especially since he tried to save her), and Draco was actually protecting a mudblood and then shut up and multiplied in order to win.

What on earth is he doing going about with grotesque supplication and begging for forgiveness?

Wouldn't you like to know? I can think of three main categories of reasons:

  1. Harry has a complicated plot that this hinges on, possibly just honestly needing Hermione to forgive him so she'll work with him.
  2. Harry is actually in love (or something similar) with Hermione so is acting the part
  3. Harry is Rand al'Thor.
Comment author: wedrifid 28 August 2010 06:45:36AM *  0 points [-]

Harry is a total wuss.

Unsurprising, and I don't see it as a problem.

There is a genuinely interesting question here. I know I personally are far less likely to take the advice of or learn lessons from wusses. I am reasonably confident I am not generalising from one example here but for your part does Harry's wussiness have any bearing on how much you expect your own behaviour to be influenced by Harry's example in the MoR parables?

Come on - Harry clearly manipulated that situation and needed to lose to make it work.

This is to what I referred when I said "some arbitrary social agenda" and that I could see as many reasons to orchestrate winning as losing. Deliberately losing isn't something that I find distasteful. In fact it would be impressive, a rare instance of Harry not doing something motivated primarily by his ego. (Did I say that already? Probably. It sounds like something I would say.)

Harry is Rand al'Thor.

Brilliant. And that is one of the reasons (apart from excessive braid tugging) that I stopped reading the Wheel of Time series. And this is despite the fact that the very name "Wedrifid" is from the character I created on the Wheel of Time mud who spent months of real time joining the Gaidin and eventually becoming a ridiculously powerful Warder.

That was a lot of fun. All that completely useless status I acquired in an utterly irrelevant social hierarchy! I still use the name 'Wedrifid' in online forums because the Wedrifid persona is more resilient and has a personality that is better adapted to the online discussion context. The "Cameron Taylor" identity works better with, you know, actual flesh and blood people.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 28 August 2010 01:39:15PM 1 point [-]

Do you have a binary wuss or not a wuss model? If Harry makes himself unduly subordinate to Hermione, does that eliminate the effects of him taking on Dumbledore in regards to Snape?

Comment author: wedrifid 28 August 2010 02:58:28PM 1 point [-]

Do you have a binary wuss or not a wuss model?

No, but neither is it univariate. As with many words 'wuss' means rather a lot of different things depending on the context.

If Harry makes himself unduly subordinate to Hermione, does that eliminate the effects of him taking on Dumbledore in regards to Snape?

Let's leave the word 'wuss' aside for the moment, to look at the implications of those scenarios has on Harry's credibility. I'll also note that subordination isn't always wussy. Grand Viziers are subordinate and far from wussy. In fact, I just got back from playing board games - something that I am extremely good at and in which I make extensive use of subordination to further my goals. Humans are heavily biased towards dominance and I find that a useful trait to exploit. No, neither subordination nor apologies are something that are intrinsically 'wussy'.

But back to the question:

  • When Harry takes on Dumbledore he shows that he is clever, somewhat ruthless, and erring on the side of being 'brittle' rather than 'soft' in social terms. It makes me more likely to trust him as a source of effective social strategies and schemes but not necessarily good judgement on when to use them.
  • Harry's grovelling shows that he is poor at risk assessment, lacks mature boundaries, is somewhat desperate for approval and who is completely incompetent at achieving social objectives. This last part is particularly important. A lot of Harry's 'genius scheming' is actually related to Harry trying to achieve social goals. Trying to turn Draco, orchestrating alliances between generals, giving lessons on how to work with his team, developing Neville, etc. Yet the Harry from the chapter in question shouldn't be expected to have competence in any of those things.
Comment author: magfrump 28 August 2010 08:28:51PM 2 points [-]

Harry...is completely incompetent at achieving social objectives. This last part is particularly important. A lot of Harry's 'genius scheming' is actually related to Harry trying to achieve social goals.

Being incompetent at achieving social objectives seems like a good reason for using 'genius scheming' instead of standard methods. The fact that he does this is one of the reasons that I sympathize with him as a character.

Comment author: NihilCredo 28 August 2010 06:45:07AM 2 points [-]
  1. Harry is Rand al'Thor.

In light of the fanfic's famed/notorious length, this presents some disturbing implications...

Comment author: dclayh 28 August 2010 06:24:53AM 2 points [-]

Haha, I was just going to post the "Harry is Rand al'Thor" theory myself. Clearly the best explanation.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 August 2010 06:41:43AM 0 points [-]

Clearly the best explanation.

Followed closely by "Harry is Richard Rahl". :)

Comment author: CronoDAS 28 August 2010 07:48:13AM 0 points [-]

Unlike Rand al'Thor, though, Richard Rahl would definitely hit a girl.

Comment author: cousin_it 26 August 2010 05:49:10PM *  4 points [-]

I'm such a wrong person, I read that as "Draco made friends with a mudblood and then went forth and multiplied in order to win".

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 26 August 2010 04:09:04PM 1 point [-]

If Harry is actually in love with Hermione, is apologizing his best move? Would he do better to show more respect for her intelligence?

Or is he apologizing for something other than setting things up so that it was likely that she'd be dropped?

Comment author: thomblake 26 August 2010 04:15:43PM 0 points [-]

If Harry is actually in love with Hermione, is apologizing his best move?

The 'love' hypothesis was mostly motivated as an explanation in the case that Harry is not making his best move.

Or is he apologizing for something other than setting things up so that it was likely that she'd be dropped?

I'm pretty sure he's apologizing for a whole package of evil regardless of the dropping. I doubt Harry planned that that particular contingency would happen, and so I would also believe that he's genuinely remorseful that she actually fell.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 26 August 2010 05:47:10PM 0 points [-]

If Harry is actually in love with Hermione, is apologizing his best move?

The 'love' hypothesis was mostly motivated as an explanation in the case that Harry is not making his best move.

I was bringing in Hermione's point of view as a possibly interesting part of the situation.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 26 August 2010 02:39:26PM *  3 points [-]

I'm assuming that Harry had a background plan-- to get Draco and Hermione to cooperate, and to feel as though they are on each others' side on a gut level.

Even though the "drop me" scene is cute, I'm not convinced it's plausible behavior for Draco. I bet he hasn't had the Anglo/muggle training about not hurting girls, and learning that blood purity isn't true may not have affected his reflexes.

Harry's apology may be strategic. Or he may still be learning to navigate between empathy and rationality. Or (not an attractive hypothesis) tropes may be taking over some of the story.

ETA: Perhaps that should be empathy-signaling rather than just empathy.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 August 2010 09:34:11PM 5 points [-]

Er, who says Draco's grabbing Hermione because she's a girl? He's grabbing her because she's falling off the roof.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 28 August 2010 10:01:44PM 3 points [-]

Fair point. I jumped to a conclusion.

On the other hand, it isn't dangerous for her to fall. Draco grew up in the wizarding world. I'd expect him to have a gut-level trust in the potion.

Or is Hermione showing excessive trust in the potion because it's labeled as working a certain way, while Draco has more experience with magic that doesn't quite work?